Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
For only the second time in House of Representatives history, a committee boasts women Members of Congress in both the Chair and Ranking Member leadership roles. In fact, the chair of this committee will be Representative Marsha Blackburn from my own home state of Tennessee. So why am I not celebrating this watershed moment forwomen in Congressional leadership?
The anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US keeps getting worse. Now, Donald Trump has called for a complete ban on Muslim immigrants to the United States. The way Trump sounded an alarm about the danger of Muslims within our midst, blaming immigration, has some parallels with the dramatic electoral success of the extreme right in France.
Twenty years ago the people of Ireland voted to allow divorce yet, today, Ireland has the lowest divorce rate in the European Union. Understanding the role of marriage among the Irish can help us understand why.
With nuclear weapons, what could possibly go wrong? The short answer is: Everything.
Nuclear weapons could be launched by accident or miscalculation. There have already been several close calls related to false warnings nearly leading to actual launches, which would most likely have led to retaliatory responses. These false warnings are all the more dangerous for the US and Russia knowing that each side keeps hundreds of nuclear weapons on high alert, ready to be launched in moments of an order to do so.
A society's prison system mirrors the society. What does America's say about America?
Some numbers: With only five percent of the world's population, the U.S. has more than 20 percent of the world's prison population. America has the largest actual prison head count in the world and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate (first place is held via a statistical oddity by the tiny Seychelles island nation.) In the U.S., from 1978 to 2014, the prison population rose 408 percent, to the point where the nation is closing in on a full one percent of the entire population being in prison proper. If you include all forms of correctional control - prison, jail, parole and probation - about three percent of Americans are included. The numbers are currently as high as they have ever been in history.
Will 2015 be remembered in history as a year when the human race decided to abandon the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? If the first part of this year saw the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ending in a failure, the closing of 2015 might witness a final and de facto expansion of the nuclear weapons club. Not surprisingly, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have spoken out strongly against the proposed agreement, which the Japanese prime minister might sign during his visit to India this weekend. In an extraordinary move, the two mayors - Kazumi Matsui and Tomihisa Taue - held a press conference issuing a joint statement and urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to abandon the nuclear supply agreement with India.
The greenwashing of some of the world's biggest polluters' by European public relations and lobbying consultancies is exposed in a new report released today. As the COP21 Paris climate summit enters its second week, "The climate smokescreen - PR companies lobbying for big polluters in Europe", by Corporate Europe Observatory, presents case studies of seven public relations firms with climate-destructive clients.
The small city of Stevens Point in central Wisconsin is an argument for what big government can do when it is committed to serving the needs of the common people rather than the greed of the powerful or the vested interests of the national security state.
This year, according to the United Nations, more than 560,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Europe, creating the worst refugee crisis on the continent since World War II. It's no secret why refugees are so desperate to reach European soil. Fleeing from the violence in Syria, refugees carry few possessions, accumulate crippling debt and struggle to find work in neighboring countries. Families go hungry. Back in August, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that refugees in Lebanon receive less than a dollar a day in food assistance. In Jordan, 85 percent live below the international poverty line.
There is a pervasive myth generated by conservatives that the private sector is more efficient and less bureaucratic than government. This is perpetuated by those seeking to continue the "free market" in US health care, which simultaneously exploits public programs through privatization of Medicare and Medicaid. Missing from the dialogue is the well-documented growing extreme bureaucracy in private health care, especially within the private health insurance industry and other corporate stakeholders in the medical-industrial complex. As one example, Figure 1 shows the exponential growth of administrators over the last 40-plus years compared to the numbers of physicians.